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January 23, 1999
a year ago

Blue Velvet Gown

I woke up way too early for a Saturday, but I couldn't get back to sleep at 7:30 am. I think it was residual anxiety about the day, about everything, about so many things to do and so little of it I could actually do. But I had to be up and about then, so I was, and I stepped into the shower way too early for my usual self. John wandered in soon after, as he's normally a fairly early riser anyway, he was just a touch surprised at my being up but not unduly so. We had a list of things to do in the morning and a list of things that I wanted to do afterwards and the main thing keeping my brain awake was it running through both lists continuously.

Early morning list started with Victor's. For several months we've tried to find a time when Victor, himself, could show us the magic of press-pot coffee. How he liked to do it and how it differed from standard usage of the pots. Most Americans don't like silt in their coffee and don't like it quite as strong and solid as Europeans like it, so they usually grind their coffee really coarsely for the press pots. Victor really wanted us to try it European style, which is fairly finely ground, between espresso and drip weight, i.e. finer than drip coffee is ground, but a bit coarser than espresso grind. About a tablespoon and a half of that per eight ounces, and he added another tablespoon and a half as neither John nor I protested strong coffee. I admit, I'd rather it was stronger than weaker, as I can always add water.

It turned out intense. Utterly deep, dense and intense. Lovely and rich with fragrances and textures that one doesn't normally get in coffee. I added a splash of cream to the darkness and it was wonderful with the piece of sweet coffee cake that I'd gotten to go with. It did have more sediment than 'normal' coffee, but it was well worth it for the intense flavor.

Yes, I also, sometimes, drink straight single shots of espresso for the crema.

Buzzing happily, we then went to work, where I zoomed about finding all the missing paperwork, we made copies of everything and then we went to Keeny's to get envelopes and paper. I also found cover stock for the notebooks I wanted to make for myself, and some fine linen paper with neat texturing that I'll likely use for Nigel's journal. Lovely stuff, including a parchment looking stuff that had a vellum finish. John got his stuff, and we had all this stuff, stood in line and when she rang everything up the total was a few cents more than three dollars. Wow.

The post office was next, and I found out that I can send things to the U.K. pretty cheaply and pretty darn quickly. Just a few days and it's like four dollars. That was very cool to know.

We went home after that, and I dropped John off at home, got a pile of Things, including the checkbook, a gift certificate from 1996 that I had to redeem soon, and directions to the Seattle Pen Company.

First, just the third fill-up of the Passat since Thanksgiving, and we've been driving it pretty exclusively since that time as the Rovers aren't all up yet. Next, to the church to grab my bulletin, as I was deacon the next day. Then off across I-90 to downtown. I circled about the address for a while, didn't find parking, so finally went to Pacific Place and parked in their underground parking, which on weekends and evenings is only $2 for two hours, unlike the $7/hr lots all over downtown. So I parked down there, and really, really had to pee. So went up to the second floor, which had restrooms and got relief.

Next door to the bathrooms was the J. Petermans store, and since I was there I thought to myself, why not try on The Dress? The Dress was the blue velvet Glamour Dress that debuted in the Christmas Holiday Catalog. It's this gorgeous thing, blue velvet as dark as a newly dark night sky with a ribbon of rhinestones down the front. The dress is beautifully made, with flattering fit, and drapery along the back and a near Erte-like flow to the fabric. Exquisitely gathered, draped and shaped flow to the skirt that makes it move with every motion you make. It was also fabulously expensive in the initial offering. After Christmas, it, along with most of the other ballgowns and beautiful party clothing, was discounted by about 25% in their Winter Sale catalog, and at that price it was starting to look a bit more possible.

I've been looking at this dress since it came out, and the one pain about buying from their catalogs is not knowing how things are going to fit. So I thought that since I was there I should go and at least try on the dress in about my size to see how it felt, how it fit. So I did. They had one in just my size, and I went and found the fitting rooms and I tried it on and I stood there, looked at myself in the mirror and started muttering, "Oh, this is so not good..." as it was a perfect fit. After all the other purchases of paper and pens and the like, this was yet another purchase over my mental limit.

It felt really, really comfortable, and just as the pictures hinted at, it flowed with my motions as only heavy, well-contoured velvet can do. It was gorgeous, and it made me look very, very good indeed. I may have to learn how to dance with John just so I can wear this dress.

The clincher came when I asked the assistant in the dressing rooms if she thought it fit okay, and when I stepped out she and another random lady both gasped in appreciation. It's that kind of dress. Well, it really wasn't the gasp that clinched it it was her answer to my casual question of, "That 50% off sign on that rack, it applies to...?"

She picked up immediately and said, "It's off the sale price. Incredible isn't it?"

Yes, it was incredible. Utterly. Especially since, when I peeked at the tag on the dress, the sale price in the store was significantly below the sale price in the catalog to begin with. Then another half off of that, it was just insane. It was like the dress was saying, "You'd better buy me *now*. I'm not going to get any better than this." It meant that right then and there I paid about as much for that gorgeous creature of a dress as I did for just the pants of my London suit. I have picked up just a bit more style.

I realized, after that, that the act of buying things does not make me feel good. It actually makes me feel miserable. When I do it, it makes me anxious, unhappy, and doubtful of myself. Having whatever I buy does make me feel better, but I don't get happy at buying things. It's a stressful thing, all together, but I'm gaining consciousness about it. In this case, it was a dress that I'd been longing for for three months, and it's at an incredible price, and if I even wear it once, it'll be worth what I paid for it. I'm gradually realizing that my base feelings are that I'm not worth spending money on and it's my rationalizations, my justifications that allow me to get past that. It's a whole wall of things that I have to get through, which is why I usually feel so exhausted and nearly defeated when I actually get through.

But I'm getting through.

The Seattle Pen Company offered no temptations after that. I just got my converters and fled. Then the Weaving Works was pretty easy as well. I found this lovely, fine, tweedy yarn that would go well with the tussah silk for socks, and I bought two skeins. Yarns are definitely getting more expensive, as that was $20 right there. It took the sales lady twenty minutes to find the receipt to go with the gift certificate, but find it she did, and so I went on my merry way.

The sun broke out in Seattle while I was there, and I basked in the glows that I could get to as it's been weeks since we've seen the full-out sun. I'm definitely going to enjoy the sunshine in Boulder when we get there. By the time I got back to the Eastside, it was gone again. John was out in the drizzle, grumpy and damp and working hard on the Green Monster's brakes. He asked me to help and I spent the next hour pumping the brake pedal and, eventually, the clutch pedal on command as he bled off all the hydraulics of air and other stuff.

After lunch he drove the Monster around and found that while the brakes were still iffy, they were at least there and drivable. That was very good indeed.

I spent most of the afternoon struggling with my sharing, but got it to come out and tried to fit it with the two Scripture readings. I knew I wanted to talk about John and my leaving, and I knew that I wanted to shape it to the two readings, so that I would have some chance of fitting in with the sermon. What came out was extremely compact and while I felt, in some ways, that the references were a bit oblique, I thought it might do.

We spent the evening at John's parents' house with David and his two kids, as it was Yuri's birthday party and we brought him gifts.

I was nervous about my deaconing in the morning, so we begged home around 9, and I spent another two hours at home dictating it into the machine and then polishing it. While I like to write by hand, now, I really, really prefer editing by machine. It's just so much easier.

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